Advances in Biodiesel by Pira International Ltd

By Pira International Ltd

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By Pira International Ltd

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Additional applications for biodiesel itself, as opposed to applications for the by- products of the production process, have been slow to develop, with most still in their nascent stages. Research into using it as a heating fuel in domestic and commercial boilers, for example, has experimented with pure biodiesel and biodiesel blends. A technical research paper published in the UK by the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, entitled Biodiesel Heating Oil: Sustainable Heating for the Future, by Andrew Robertson, describes laboratory research and field trials using pure biodiesel and biodiesel blends for heating fuel applications.

Without state subsidies, the break-even point for biodiesel production is approximately $35 (€26) per barrel, according to a recent study by the World Bank. This figure will vary, of course, according to the price of regular diesel (which is frequently below that of biodiesel), as well as what the World Bank calls the presence of ‘favourable agronomic factors’, such as the price and availability of a feedstock. Equatorial regions of the world are most appropriate for the cultivation of biodiesel feedstocks, for, in the absence of seasons, crops can be grown all year round, allowing for an abundance of raw material.

In tests, petrol-powered cars perform better than diesels on toxic soot and smog- forming emissions. The downside with current diesels is that they produce 10–20 times more toxic particulates than their petrol counterparts, more than can be made up for with the use of biodiesel. Diesels fare even worse when it comes to smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions, with greater than 20 times the emissions of a comparable petrol vehicle. These estimates, however, are based on 2005 model year diesels in the US, prior to the introduction of ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) and tightened emissions standards that have applied in several US states since 1 January 2007.

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